The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) yesterday launched its enhancement project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CBD) and the government to upgrade its facilities.
The CBD’s loan and the government’s contribution are approximately $4.7 million each, according to BTVI Chairman Kevin Basden.
“This implementation workshop for BTVI’s enhancement project, funded by the Caribbean Development Bank and the government of The Bahamas, brings us a step closer to ultimately improving mechanisms for the delivery of institutional strengthening and enhancement,” Basden said.
“The CDB’s loan of approximately $4.7 million along with counterpart funding by the government of The Bahamas of some $4.7 million is a response to the need for filling the gaps that exist relative to a strong technical workforce in The Bahamas.
“The components of the project include infrastructural expansions at BTVI, improved training for staff and faculty, professional and study tours, upgraded technological capacity, development of a tracer study system for graduates, advanced finance and human resources software, provision of tools and equipment, energy efficiency, development of a campus master plan and security systems and overall enhanced operational effectiveness among multiple other progressions.”
He added that a loan of this magnitude will further help BTVI place many people on the road to economic empowerment and reduce the technical skills gap while reducing social tensions.
In May, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said the government is “extremely concerned” about the number of skilled Bahamians who are able to take advantage of career opportunities in the country.
A recent World Trade Organization (WTO) Impact Assessment by global forecasting and quantitative analysis firm Oxford Economics found that Bahamian workers lack the necessary skills and education for firms to adequately perform in a global economy which contributes to the high unemployment in comparison with other countries in the region.
“This loan agreement between the government of The Bahamas and the CDB is timely. For far too long, technical and vocational education has been overlooked; yet it is TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) that addresses a multiplicity of issues including unemployment and socio-economic inequality,” Basden said.
“To put it in perspective, those who are trained at BTVI are needed throughout this archipelago. We need trained plumbers, electricians, construction workers, HVAC technicians, welders, cosmetologists, massage therapists, certified information technology specialists in the financial services industry, and skilled auto mechanics are certainly in demand for the average vehicle owner amongst other technical professions.”
Further, he said, it is imperative that the institution receive an upgrade that is in sync with the technological revolution of modern times, adding that it will further allow BTVI to deliver even higher quality programs.
Basden continued, “BTVI is indeed facilitating national growth and we take our mandate seriously. We are required to churn out graduates who put a dent in the labor force’s deficit in particular skills. Our institution has a strategic role in the government’s plan to bolster human capital outcomes. Indeed, technical and vocational education and training is key to those outcomes and the reality is a skilled workforce supports economic growth and the steady improvement of life for our people.”
Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd said this is a proud moment for the ministry.
He spoke of growing up in a time when individuals were condemned if they were not considered academically inclined.
“This day and time in our country dictates that general education almost becomes secondary when one considers the demand for vocationally skilled workers,” he said.
“We must plan, in the consciousness of our people, the urgency of inviting and encouraging their children to pursue this type of training.”
The government started offering a tuition grant to qualified Bahamians to attend BTVI this fall semester.
It provided $4.1 million for this initiative, which offers programs on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and Andros.